John 21:15                                                  Feed My Sheep                                                    11/10/2013

 

 

#1.                Feed My Sheep (John 21:9-17, Rev 20:7-9, Matt 24:22, 1Cor 15:51)

 

 

 

 

 

Š      Sheep Stealers (Matt 24:24, Rom 1:29)

 

 

 

 

 

#2.                Protect Yourself Against These Heresies (1Pet 1:2, Luk 23:46, Isa 53:10, Rom 9:16, Ex 20:11, 2Pet 1:21, Rev 22:18-19)

 

 

 

 

 

#3.      Our Battles With the Sheep Stealers (Acts 20:26-28, I Tim 6:13-14)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Gospel According to John, John 21:9 (2X). We read here of one of the last messages of the Lord Jesus. Briefly, His message is, “Feed My Sheep, or Feed My Lambs” We read in John 21:9-17,

John 21:9, “As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.  10  Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.

John 21:11  Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.

John 21:12  Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.

John 21:13  Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.  14  This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.

John 21:15 ¶  So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

John 21:16  He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

John 21:17  He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.”

When we are approaching the end of time we will be vexed with many troubles, and we are suffering all kinds of hurts, and we are at our wits end. How then does the Lord comfort us under these circumstances? The Lord Jesus says, “Feed My Sheep.” In other words, He tells us to take our eyes away from our own problems, and to focus on the problems of others. This is one aspect of the command to feed His sheep. This is a true prophecy. Our troubles will increase when we approach the end of time, for this is God’s plan for our lives. But another aspect of this command of the Lord Jesus is this: Peter, false prophets will try to feed My sheep heresy. Peter, please focus on the truth of the Word of God, and learn to counteract their false gospels, and teach My sheep the truth. Teach them to distinguish between truth and falsehood; and teach them to defend themselves against the Sheep Stealers. Please turn to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 20:7 (2X). We read here about God’s protection for the time-tested-church in the Last Days.

#1.   Feed My Sheep (John 21:9-17, Rev 20:7-9, Matt 24:22, 1Cor 15:51)

Near the end of time the church is going to be tested severely to weed out hypocrites and other not so sincere elements that have crept into the church to destroy it from within. And when the battle is the most severe, and the church is about to cave in, God interferes. We read in Rev 20:7-9,

Rev 20:7  “And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,

Rev 20:8  And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.

Rev 20:9  And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.”

You see, this is a spiritual battle. This is a warfare that the saints are not very familiar with. And so the saints are a little clumsy in this kind of warfare. But to Satan it is a familiar mode of warfare. We should realize that this is difficult for us to get used to. We are ready for physical battles. We are ready to do this and to do that heroically when the opportunity arises. But Satan will not take us in that direction at all. He knows that we are ready for physical battles, and for physical temptations. He knows our resolve to remain faithful to Christ. And so, what does he do? He gives every one of us a computer, and he has a million or so of his servants create software that will increase the temptations so that many of the saints will be snared. Let me give you an example that applies to our days. The minions of Satan have invented the social program “Facebook”. Everyone wants to be on Facebook. It seems to be just innocent fun. But then you notice that every page is lined with scantily clad good looking harlots waiting on the sidelines, ready to jump into the action when you are bored for a moment. Did I receive a different version of Facebook than everyone else received? I do not think so. Satan knows that sex sells, and that illegitimate sex has a great attraction to men and women all over the world. And whenever you are on Facebook you are confronted with this temptation all the time. Here you see an example of how Satan operates.

The Internet, and the movie industry, and the videos, and the blogs, and the get-rich-quick schemes, and the pornography, and all kinds of good looking high tech gadgets, are used by Satan with great skill, to increase the temptations on us tremendously. Like verse 8 indicates, the whole world is gathered together to spiritually battle with the saints and to shake our commitment to Christ.

Just think of the medical problems you and your family faces in this time, and how your aged parents need proper care and how you lack the money and the time to solve all these problems. Satan knows all the weaknesses of man, and he is exploiting them to the uttermost. But God also knows them, and God’s advice to the saints is this, “Feed My Sheep.” This does not sound very encouraging. But God does not tell us to spend all our time on evangelism, but to learn the true Gospel and learn it so that we can instruct those who are My sheep. Today there are so many false gospels around, which have the result that the true Gospel is drowned out. Do we have the discernment to distinguish the true Gospel from a false gospel? This is a great need today. Let me show you this. Please turn to the Gospel According to Matthew, Mat 24:22 (2X). The Lord Jesus is instructing His disciples about the conditions in the Final Tribulation Period. He is instructing them in the spiritual warfare that is to come. The Lord says in Mat 24:22,

Mat 24:22, “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” What does that mean? God does not speak about physical death but about eternal death, the death of the soul, and the words “be saved” refers to salvation of the soul. In other words, if God would not shorten the days of the Final Tribulation Period there would not be any saved people alive at the end of time. But for the sake of the elect God will shorten the length of the Final Tribulation Period, for 1Cor 15:51 tells us that there will be some saved people alive when the Lord comes. We should not misunderstand Mat 24:22 as a time of great slaughter of the Christians all over the world, for other passages indicate that it will be business as usual near the end of time. And thus Mat 24:22 is not speaking of genocide, or religious persecution to the death, but it is speaking about the matter of succession, and that is why the number of saints dies out. The younger generation is not following the older generation in matters concerning the faith. And what do we see today? Indeed most of the younger generation is not interested to hear about the sovereignty of God. In fact, they are not interested to hear about God at all. And so, there is a great need today to hear the true Gospel expounded to the younger generation. “Feed My Sheep” is an urgent request from the Lord Jesus Christ because He recognizes the danger of Sheep-Stealers.

Please turn now to verse 24, Mat 24:24. The Lord warns us here for:

Š      Sheep Stealers (Mat 24:24, Rom 1:29)

Mat 24:24, “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”

Sheep Stealers are those who disguise themselves as the good guys, but they are wolves in sheep’s clothing. You thought that you had troubles now, but after the wolves in sheep’s clothing are done with you your troubles have increased many times over. They take note who are the gullible ones in the congregation who can be persuaded to believe another gospel. And then they bring them to another place and teach them another gospel. What about the faithful pastor who taught them many good things in the past? Is he forgotten? The Sheep Stealers have already distributed some lies about him so that the sheep will not be alarmed by their sudden unfaithfulness. We have some examples about this. It is called “Gossip.” God says in Lev 19:16, “Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD.” God also speaks about them Rom 1:29, “Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers.” Do you see that? Whisperers! That is nothing less than gossip. The Sheep Stealers are destroying the church from the inside. Every church has those who still need to learn a great deal. They are “babes in Christ.” And Sheep Stealers are targeting those who are still in the beginning stages of understanding the true Gospel. It is true that we should not worry about them, because God is in control, and God has His elect who cannot be deceived. Nevertheless, we need to know who our enemies are, and who our allies are. And we need to know what the issues are that we need to address so that we can help people to build up their faith, and to give them more assurance of their salvation. What are some of the issues which the Sheep Stealers bring up to lure people out of the church, and into their particular cult or heresy? Let me bring up a few examples here.

#2.               Protect Yourself Against These Heresies (1Pet 1:2, Luk 23:46, Isa 53:10, Rom 9:16, Ex 20:11, 2Pet 1:21, Rev 22:18-19)

#1.   Reinventing the wheel. Do not give heed to people who want to deconstruct everything that past theologians have concluded. Those past theologians were no idiots. Those who want to reinvent the wheel are frequently in conflict with the concept of the Trinity, which is that God exists in three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (1Pet 1:2). Each one of any of these three Persons is fully God, and all three together are one God. About 2000 years ago God the Son took on a human nature in the womb of the Virgin Mary, was inseparably united with that human nature both in body and in soul, and is called the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember He is fully God, because God the Son is fully God. And so, when Christ in His dying moment said on the cross, “Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit,” (Luk 23:46) we understand that His human soul went to be with the Father in heaven, but His body still united with God the Son was placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea. We were crucified with Christ, we died with Christ, and we were buried with Christ, and we rose again with Christ (Isa 53:10). Yes, even after Christ died and His soul went to heaven we were still buried with Christ in the body that went into the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea.

#2.   The beginning of God’s creation is not in Gen 1 but in Eph 1, for the sovereignty of God must preside above all. God created all things for His own glory, not for the glory of His creatures. Before God created the first speck of dust God chose His elect people before the foundation of the world. The Father chose a Bride for His Son, and God decided that He would pour His free grace upon His elect people only and not on anyone else, for all the credit of salvation must go to God. Men are not saved by their own free will (there is no such thing) for God says it plainly in Rom 9:16,

So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

#3.   The universe was created in six literal days. God created all species in six days, and then He rested, meaning that He was finished creating out of nothing (Ex 20:11).

#4.   The Word of God is infallible. When we read the Bible we are obligated to harmonize every-thing, and if we cannot harmonize it, it is our error of interpretation, for God spoke these words (2Pet 1:21) and God cannot lie.

#5.   God has finished speaking His laws and His rules of conduct and His penalties for breaking these rules. God is not going to speak again until the Last Day has arrived. (Rev 22:18-19).

#6.   There are no insignificant non-salvation issues in the Bible. Everything comes out of the mouth of God, and God cannot lie. Learn the truths of so called non-salvation issues, and discover that these insignificant issues are actually teaching us who the Sheep Stealers are.

#7.   The truth is conveyed in the Hebrew Masoretic text and the Greek Textus Receptus.  A translation is not the inspired Word of God. Just like the Septuagint is not the inspired Word of God, even so is the King James version not the inspired Word of God. To get to the truth we must often dig into the Greek and the Hebrew Text.

These are just a few of the certainties which were established by holy men of old. Anytime someone challenges these Biblical rules you must know that you are listening to a heretic. This is not a complete list, but this is an example how to defend ourselves against heresies. The Word of God is full of promises, and we must understand that God’s promises against the judgments on heretics are just as sure as His promises of good things for the saints.

But before I take you to all  those prophecies, let me first tell you about

#3.         Our Battles With the Sheep Stealers (Acts 20:26-28, I Tim 6:13-14)

Please turn in your Bibles to the Acts of the Apostles, Acts 20:26-28 (2X) In Acts chapter 20 the Apostle Paul gave his farewell sermon to the elders of the church at Ephesus. In the middle of his sermon to the Ephesian elders the Apostle Paul said:

Acts 20:26  Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.

Acts 20:27  For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.

Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

Take heed, be on your toes, for yourselves and for all the flock over which God the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. If God has put them in their job as overseers, would God then at some point in time take back from them this appointment to be overseers of the congregation? Absolutely not! Take heed elders, overseers; keep preaching the pure Word of God to your church, which He has purchased with His own precious blood. These days there are people who declare that the church is dead and that the elders are no longer elders. Is God an Indian giver? God forbid! Therefore, take heed. "Let God be true, but every man a liar". Fear not to declare all the counsel of God. Fear not to take away all the high places. And when the chief Shepherd appears let this commendation be said of you: "Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God."

Keep one finger in Acts 20, and please turn to the Epistle to 1Tim, chapter 6, 1Tim 6:13. (2X) In this letter the Apostle Paul instructs his spiritual son Timothy various things on the proper operation of a church. At the same time God gives these instructions to all the elders and Pastors of the New Testament church. In the second half of chapter 6 God tells Timothy and He tells us to fight the good fight, and God says:

1Tim 6:13 ¶ I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;

1Tim 6:14  That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until (2X) the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:

A solemn charge is laid before Timothy, before all ministers of the Gospel and before all the saints to fight the good fight of faith, to observe the doctrine and discipline of the church, and to preach the Gospel of the grace of Christ in sincerity, purity and without compromise. We seek not the praise, approval and honor which comes from men, but we preach, walk and live before God. We keep doing this without interruption until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ on the clouds of glory. That is why we must take heed that we elders are faithful Undershepherds, rather than cowardly hirelings.

Let us return now to Acts chapter 20. God warns us there about:

Speaking to the church at Ephesus, God warned that church, and He warned the entire New Testament church in Acts 20:29-30,

Acts 20:29  For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

Acts 20:30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

Acts 20:31  Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

God warned them that soon after the departing of the Apostle Paul grievous wolves would enter this congregation, and draw away many people with them into Hell. Who would do such a dastardly thing? The Apostle Paul looked the Ephesian elders straight in the eyes and he said:

"Of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them." Out of that highly privileged group of elders standing before him would arise some, who would be preaching a false gospel, and thereby lead many people astray. If this could happen to the church at Ephesus, where the Apostle Paul labored for three years, then certainly it could happen to our church also. Therefore, take heed, because the wolves are at the door. Be on your toes. Check everything out in your Bible. Never assume that it is right because so and so says it. In fact, if we depend on the wisdom of man to keep us straight, then we are certainly going to be disappointed.

God affirms this in the middle verse of the Bible, which is Jer 17:5,

Jer 17:5 Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and (the result is) whose heart departeth from the LORD.

We cannot fully trust man. We can only trust God for what He says in the Word of God. For example: Signs of the end of the world are events in creation, in history and in the church that show that the end of the world is near. Such an event in creation might be an earthquake; such an event in history would be war; such an event in the church would be worldwide apostasy. These signs are specified in the Scriptures, and they are events that take place out in the open, where they are obvious to everybody. They are not private, secret signs that are given to a few special individuals by special revelation. This has always been a characteristic of the cults. The secrecy of these revelations contradicts the very idea of the biblical signs of the end, for biblical signs are open and obvious.

Do not listen to those who say: "I have some private, secret information about Christ's coming. Listen to me, and follow me." If we lend our ears to such silly talk then we are endangering ourselves to be sucked into a cult. The Apostle Paul says: "Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears." Watch and pray. Pray for your Pastor, that he may remain faithful. Pray that we will not be influenced by men to go in a direction, which is altogether an unbiblical direction. And in the end we must leave it all in the hands of God, for perseverance of the saints is entirely by the grace of God. Therefore Paul says:

We read in Acts 20:32,

Acts 20:32  And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

The Apostle says: And now I leave you in the care of God, and I leave you with the Word of God, which he so beautifully titles "the Word of His grace". Indeed it is the Word of His grace.

It is through the words of the Bible that the grace of God reaches the hearts of men.

It is through the words of the Bible that the grace of God keeps us on the strait and narrow.

It is through the words of the Bible that the grace of God teaches us to discern right from wrong.

The Word of His grace is able to build you up and to make you spiritually grow in grace.

The Word of His grace is able to keep your Pastor faithful.

I don't know if you are aware of it, but these days it is very difficult to remain faithful to everything the Bible has to say, because every day we are bombarded with all kinds of deviations from the Truth.

These days our church is bombarded with all kinds of nonsense, and our church is not equipped to face all those challenges. We are at the entrance of deep and dark days, because the churches that we thought were our allies are falling by the wayside. We find ourselves to be an independent church, which really stands alone, dependent on no one, and abandoned by everyone. Only by the grace of God can we remain faithful. Only by the grace of God shall we be preserved for an eternity with God, who will "give us an inheritance among all them which are sanctified." So all I can say is: "I commend you to God". God will know what is best for us.  But we can always trust in the Word of His grace, where we can find these comforting words of Psalm 23:4-6,

Psalm 23:4  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Psalm 23:5  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Psalm 23:6  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Think of the faithfulness of the Lord Jesus Christ, that He was willing to endure Hell for us, on our behalf. And would He now abandon us?        No way! Even though we are at the entrance of deep and dark days and we feel abandoned by everyone, remember those words:

"I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."

When the Lord Jesus said: "Feed My sheep", the Apostle Peter found out how difficult this assignment was. When I received this commission, sixteen years ago, little did I know how difficult this assignment was going to be. But by the grace of God we will persevere to the end.

AMEN.                  Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.